Third ODI: Strategic shift could be on the cards for India in series decider

The Men in Blue are the only team that remain stuck to the belief that they will accelerate only in the last 15 overs
Last Updated 27 March 2021, 12:17 IST

The Men in Blue may want to revisit their 50-over template while picking up the pieces from the Friday carnage with an aim to complete a hat-trick of series wins against England in the third and final ODI on Sunday.

On a batting belter that was on offer at the Gahunje Stadium, England hit an astounding 20 sixes in a 337-run chase which became a cakewalk, thanks to some inept bowling from spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya.

Never before has captain Virat Kohli missed Ravindra Jadeja as much as he would have on Friday when Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes took the mickey out of India's left-arm wrist and orthodox spinners.

In the bowling department, Kuldeep scripted an unwanted record when he conceded eight sixes, the most by an Indian bowler. He leaked 84 runs in the second game after giving 64 runs in the first. And so did Krunal Pandya, who gave 72 runs in six overs with an embarrassing average of 12 per over.

So, in all probability, the duo could be replaced by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, who can also chip in with the bat, if needed.

From the team's perspective, it would be impossible to ignore Chahal for the third match even though the Haryana leg-spinner hasn't been in the best of form.

Pandya senior would still make it to the team because of his batting skills but his apology for left-arm spin has certainly ensured that he won't be considered a long-term option.

In terms of batting, a total of 337 is certainly not bad by any standard but perhaps India can now look to have a strategic shift in terms of the process of building the innings.

The Men in Blue are the only team that always believes in accelerating in the last 15 overs, a template that was set by their illustrious former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

It has worked on most occasions but of late, World Cup holder England has shown the world that attacking up front on batting tracks is the way forward.

It might just help Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya with their brand of power-hitting to change the course of the innings in the back 10.

Skipper Virat Kohli, who hit two successive 50 plus scores, would be keen to carry on his form and convert the start into a really big score and end the century drought.

The skipper has, however, made it clear that he is not looking at milestones.

"I never played for 100s in my life, that's probably why I ended up getting so many in such little time."

"It's all about contributing to the team cause. If the team doesn't win when you get three figures, it doesn't mean anything. You're not going to sit back at the end of your career and look at numbers, it's more about how you played the game."

For the record, his last century came in August 2019 in this format.

Hardik would continue to play his role of a finisher but a question mark remains about what kind of workload management is happening considering that he has rarely bowled save some overs in the recently concluded T20 Internationals.

On the pace front, while India would go ahead with spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar, they could try going in with left-arm pacer and yorker specialist T Natarajan, in case they want to rest Shardul Thakur for the game.

Also, there could be a choice between Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna although Prasidh's pace is an advantage for the hosts.

Meanwhile, England would be bolstered by Friday’s performance and the biggest positive would be the return to form of Ben Stokes, who otherwise struggled on many occasions on the entire tour.

Come Sunday, if India manage to do things differently and pull off a win, it would be a wonderful gift on the eve of Holi, the festival of colours.

The ODI squads:

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Surya Kumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur.

England: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood, David Malan, Sam Billings. Cover players: Jake Ball, Chris Jordan.

The final fixture of the three-match ODI series starts at 1.30 p.m.

(Published 27 March 2021, 07:37 IST)

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